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Extra Credit Tech Tips


What's New? - Canvas - Blogger - Twitter - Pinterest - Padlet - Graphics

Bookmarks - Audio-Video - Twine - Reading/Research - Misc.




Although this is not a technology class, it's an online class — and that means we will be relying on web technology to connect and communicate. These tips are designed to help you take full advantage of the great opportunities that web technology can offer. If you have ideas for tips that I can add to this list, let me know! 


For each Tech Tip, there is some kind of blog post involved, and then you can do the Declaration. And remember, you can work ahead, so if you find these tips helpful, you can do a whole bunch all at once, declaring one for each week (current week, next week, the week after, etc.). All those modules are available in Canvas, with a Tech Tip Declaration in each week, and the Declaration always looks like this:


I chose a Tech Tip from the list and followed the instructions.

POST TITLE: I used the phrase "Tech Tip" plus the name of the tip.
(example. Tech Tip: Creating a Cheezburger Meme)
POST LABELS: I used the label "Tech Tip" plus the week's label.
(example. Tech Tip, Week 2 — separated by a comma)


NOTE: Features for these online tools can change without warning. So, if you notice that the instructions do not match the current version of the tool, please let me know and I will update the page for that tip to match the current version.



This semester I will add a new Tech Tip each week to help you take control more control of your tools, with an emphasis on "ethical ed tech" and tools that allow you to make your own decisions about data sharing. I've gotten some great suggestions from one student already, and if you have thoughts about this, please let me know! Here is the first new tip:

  • Duck Duck Go. This is a search engine alternative to Google. Unlike Google, DDG does not track your personal information, which means it is not selling your personal information to advertisers as Google does.
  • Creative Commons Image Search. This is a great image search engine that you can use. One very valuable feature: it gives you exactly the image information you need to attribute the image properly, just copy-and-paste. 
  • Sharing at Flickr. Have you ever wondered where all those free-to-use photos come from? A lot of them come from Flickr, and you can contribute photos to Flickr also. 
  • Google Data Controls. For this Tech Tip, you will learn about how to set auto-delete options to gain more control over your Google data, including search data. 
  • Mozilla Firefox. Having multiple browsers on your computer is always a good idea because some websites behave differently in different browsers. For this tip, you can install and configure the Firefox browser from the non-profit Mozilla Foundation. 
  • Typing in Your Browser. If you would like to just type in your browser, with no program, no app, no logging in, just typing, you can use this little snippet of HTML code to turn your browser into a plain, simple space for typing. 
  • Wikipedia Account. When you have a Wikipedia account, you can set personal preferences for how Wikipedia looks, and you can both edit articles and keep track of articles so that you are alerted for content changes.
  • Wikimedia Commons. Have you ever wondered where all those Wikipedia images come from? They come from people like you, uploading images to Wikimedia Commons. For this tip, you will learn how to upload your own images to Wikimedia Commons. 
  • OUCreate: Your Webspace. This tip is for getting started with OUCreate webspace, which you can then use to publish Twine stories, a website you create with Seamonkey, or for a WordPress blog, etc.  
  • OUCreate: Subdomains. If you have your own domain at OUCreate, that means you can create subdomains, and you can use those subdomains as quick-and-easy addresses to share with people (for example, Flickr.LauraGibbs.net, which goes straight to my Flickr albums).
  • Mozilla Seamonkey. Also from Mozilla, Seamonkey is a free HTML editor that you can use to publish single webpages or full-blown websites. For this tip, you will install Seamonkey, use its Composer to create a webpage, and publish that webpage in your own web space. 
  • Randomizer Javascript. In this tip, you will learn how to use the free tool RotateContent.com to create a randomizer in the form of a javascript which you can host in your OUCreate webspace and publish in a blog post. 



Based on comments students made about Canvas last Fall, I've written up some Canvas tips. Are there other Canvas tips that would be useful? If so, let me know!

  • Canvas Mobile App. Use this tip to install the Canvas mobile app and report on your experience (or just to report on the experience if you're already using the app).
  • Canvas Calendar. Learn how to use the calendar, and also how to export the calendar into another calendar you already use; that's how you can combine your personal class schedule with the official class deadlines.
  • Canvas Notifications. Use this tip to configure your notification preferences and report on your experience (or, if you set your preferences already, just to report on your experience).
  • Canvas Profile. For this tip, you'll update your Canvas profile. Plus, you can update your display name if you don't actually use your official first name (there are a LOT of students who use a different name and Canvas, unlike D2L, lets you choose!).
  • Canvas Dashboard. This tip explains the features of the Canvas Dashboard and how to configure the dashboard with course nicknames, adding/removing courses, turning off the color overlay, etc.
  • Canvas Gradebook. OU switched to the new Canvas Gradebook in Spring 2019; this tip offers some advice for how to use the new Gradebook to keep track of your work for this class.



The instructions below are for Blogger, but you can do all the same things (and more) in WordPress of course.

  • Blogger Templates. Use this tip to change the look-and-feel of your Blogger blog, including the new mobile-friendly templates like Contempo and Soho. You can also adjust the number and position of sidebars, column widths, etc.
  • Blogger Profile. For this tip, you can configure and display your Blogger Profile OR you can hide your profile and display name; it's all up to you!
  • Blogger Favicon. You can upload a favicon image to replace the default Blogger image in the browser tab.
  • Embed GoogleMap in a Blogger Post. It's easy to embed a dynamic Google Map (zoom in, zoom out!) inside a Blogger post.
  • Google Slides. This is a great alternative to Powerpoint, allowing you to make slideshows that are easy to embed in any blog post (or in a blog sidebar if you prefer).
  • Create a Clickable Blogger Comment Link. This is a quick introduction to typing your own HTML code to add clickable links even when there is no editor to create the link for you.
  • See Audio-Video below for how to embed YouTube videos and SoundCloud audio in a blog.


Blogger Sidebar Tips: If you are using one of the templates with a visible sidebar, these are fun tips to try! I like widgets so much that I configured my Blogger theme ("Awesome Inc.") to have two sidebars, one left and one right. :-)

  • Add a Featured Post to Your Sidebar. You can feature your Introduction, or any post you want, on every page of your blog in the sidebar.
  • Add Latest Posts to Your Sidebar. You can create a box for your sidebar that will automatically display links to the most recent posts at your blog.
  • Add a Countdown to Your Sidebar. You can create a countdown widget for the end of the semester, graduation, or any event you want.
  • Add an HTML Box to Your Sidebar. An HTML box allows you to insert text and links into a sidebar box, and it is also how you add javascript widgets.
  • Add the Weather to Your Sidebar. You can use an Accuweather widget to display the weather in your blog sidebar (I've updated this widget since Weather Underground stopped offering widgets).
  • Twitter in Your Sidebar. See the Twitter tips below for embedding Twitter in the sidebar.
  • Pinterest in Your Sidebar. You can also add a Pinterest Board to your sidebar; see below.



As you may have guessed from the class Twitter feed, I am a huge fan of Twitter for connecting with museums, libraries, writers, musicians, and artists of all kinds.

  • Getting Started with Twitter. You can do this tip with your existing Twitter account OR you can create a new account. They are both good options!
  • Following at Twitter. This tip teaches you how to follow an account at Twitter so that you see their tweets on your Twitter home page.
  • Twitter Lists. If you are like me, trying to manage your social networking time wisely, you might find Twitter lists useful! For me, they have been the key to making good use of Twitter.
  • Hashtags and Retweets. Hashtags are one of the most distinctive, and powerful, features of Twitter, and in this Tech Tip you will learn about hashtags and retweeting.
  • Embed Twitter Widget in Sidebar. For this tip, you'll create a Twitter widget to add to your blog sidebar.



Pinterest is, surprisingly, a really useful tool for school. You can use it to bookmark sites quickly and easily, and also to do research:

  • Create a Pinterest Board. This tip will help you get started using Pinterest. And if you already use Pinterest, you can use this tip to create a new Board for this class.
  • Pinterest Searches. One of the most powerful things about Pinterest is the way you can use it as a tool for search and discovery!
  • Editing Pinterest Pins. Make sure you know how to edit a Pinterest pin so that you can go back and add more detail to the pin text.
  • Pinterest Buttons and Bookmarklets. Install a Pinterest browser button or bookmarklet so that you can pin any webpage quickly and easily.
  • Pinterest Board in Blog Post. This tip shows you how to embed a Pinterest Board inside a blog post at your blog. New pins show up automatically! 
  • Pinterest Board in Blog Sidebar. This tip builds on two earlier tips: you can create a sidebar box for your blog, and then you can add the PInterest Board to the box.



Padlet is a fun pinboard tool that you can use for bookmarking and also for collaboration:

  • Padlet: Pictures of Pets. This is a quick introduction to Padlets, which are a really cool tool that works kind of like Pinterest, but which gives you a lot more control over how your Padlet page works.
  • Your Own Padlet. For this tip, you will create your own Padlet. You might create a Padlet to use in saving materials for your Storybook, for example.
  • Padlet in Your Blog. You can embed a Padlet in a blog post, sharing it with others and also giving you quick and easy access to add new items.



These are just a few suggestions; you can find lots more image editing and image creation tools that are both free and user-friendly.

  • Automotivator. Create your own motivational (or demotivational) poster using this online tool, and then share your poster in a blog post.
  • Cheezburger. You can make LOLCats and all kinds of other memes also at the Cheezburger site, either using their huge collection of images or uploading your own image to build on.
  • Meme Generator. Use ImgFlip or some other meme generator to create a meme and post it in your blog.
  • Einstein Chalkboard. This generator has been around long before the current crop of meme generators, and it is a personal favorite of mine.
  • Fake Social Media Generator. This tip is very useful if you want to tell a story in "social media style" using fake Twitter or Facebook images.
  • Quotemakers. I've included a long list of quotemaker tools here that you can use to create your own quote graphic; feel free to repeat using a different tool each time if you want. And if you have a favorite quotemaking tool that you already use, let me know!
  • Crop and Resize Images. It's a good idea to learn how to resize images, especially if you want to stack them or put them in a row. 
  • Animated GIF Maker. You can use gifmaker.me to create an animated gif with multiple images.
  • Adobe: Lynda.ou.edu. Do you already use Adobe Photoshop? It's not free, but I know different programs/majors require students to learn how to use Photoshop and other Adobe products. If so, you can complete some new Adobe tutorials at Lynda.ou.edu to count as tech tips.



My favorite bookmarking tool is Diigo, but you can also use Pinterest for bookmarking (see above), along with features in your browser. 

  • Browser Bookmarks. Explore the options for bookmarking, bookmark folders, and bookmark toolbars in the browser of your choice.
  • Getting Started with Diigo. This tip explains how to set up your Diigo account and start bookmarking.
  • Diigo Browser Extensions. Diigo is even more powerful when you configure your browser to be able to bookmark with just a click or two.



I am a big fan of both YouTube and SoundCloud!



Twine is a free online tool you can use to create stories and publish in your own webspace:

  • Get started with Twine. For this tip, you will create a simple "pick a number" game-story in Twine.
  • Publish Twine at OUCreate. For this tip, you will publish your Twine game file in your OUCreate webspace (or any other webspace you want to use).
  • Embed Twine in Blog Post. After you publish your Twine file, you can embed the file in a blog post. People don't have to click and leave your blog to play the game; they can play the game right there in your post.
  • Embed Twine in Google Site. You can also embed your Twine file in a Google Site page (or any webpage where iframe can be used).
  • Twine Styles. There are other Twine style beyond the default black-background style. This tip will show you how to change from one Twine style to another. 



These are tools for reading and research you do in this class, or in your other classes too:

  • "My Library" at OU. You can create a customized OU Library resource list for one-click access to the online Library resources you use most (for me, that's JStor and Oxford English Dictionary). 
  • Kindle Overview. This tip provides an overview of the Kindle book system from Amazon, which allows you to read books with a Kindle device OR with your phone OR with your computer web browser. 
  • Kindle Highlights. This tip explains how you can copy-and-paste text passages you have highlighted in your Kindle by using your web-based "Kindle Notebook" (this is probably my favorite thing about Kindle books!).
  • Google Define/Etymology. Did you know that you can use Google Search like a dictionary? This tip features the "define" and "etymology" Google search parameters.



These are some Google-related tools, plus other miscellaneous tools you might find useful.

  • Class Announcements Email. If you want, you can subscribe to receive the class announcements each day by email.
  • Google Timer. Did you know you can configure a Timer just by using the Google search box? No kidding! It's a great way to pace yourself if you want to time a task, take a timed break, etc.
  • Google Reverse Image Search. Did you know you can search by image at Google, just like searching by words? It's a great way to track down image information and bigger image files.
  • Typing Test. There are lots of sites where you can test your typing speed and accuracy. If you want to work on improving your typing, it's good to find a typing test online that you feel comfortable with. 
  • Touch Typing Game - Ninja Cat v. Zombie Dinosaurs. Fast, accurate typing is a big plus in an online class. For this tip you can try out the Ninja Cat game and see if you think an online game might improve your typing. 
  • Browser Troubleshooting. If you are having trouble with a web-based tool (Canvas, Google Sites, Blogger), this is a list of browser tricks to try to fix the problem.



Finally, I've listed some browser extensions for Chrome that I find very useful. If you use Chrome, I am guessing you would find them useful too! If you use another browser, check to see if there is a browser extension that offers the same functionality. There probably is! So, you can do these tips even if you don't use Chrome; if you are using a different browser, let me know the name of the equivalent extension that you found so I can include that in the Tech Tip instructions for other students to try.

  • Word Count. This is an extension that lets you quickly do a word count for any chunk of highlighted text on a page or in a browser text box that you are writing in.
  • Text to Speech. This extension allows you to highlight a chunk of text on any webpage, and then hear the text read out loud by a speech synthesizer.
  • Google Art Project. This is a great extension for learning about art around the world! It displays a new image every day from the Google Art Project as the background for any empty browser tab.







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